Disrupting the Disruptors: Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Service Launches Nationally
from the yet-some-people-are-still-worrying-about-CD-sales-for-chrissakes dept
One of the points we often try to make at Techdirt is that the effects of disruptive technologies are going to be felt far beyond the entertainment and publishing industries—they are not limited to the online world. The internet creates abundance of information, but it also creates a push towards decentralization in all things, and that's one of the big ways it intersects with the physical: although you can't download a car, you can create whole new systems for buying, selling, renting, reviewing and maintaining cars, and those systems will replace established but less-efficient ones.
Nobody is immune—not even the last disruptor. Companies like Zipcar changed the game with their car-sharing services, but they are already facing new challengers. RelayRides, launching nationally this week, has a model that takes things one step further:
While those companies own fleets of cars, RelayRides is entirely peer-to-peer — if you have a car, then you can make it available for rental when you're not using it. RelayRides says the average car owner makes $250 a month from the program.
Since it takes advantage of the cars already on the road, founder and chief community officer Shelby Clark argues that peer-to-peer carsharing can have a big impact—after all, a fleet-based company couldn't simply declare one day that it's launching nationally.
That's especially true in non-urban areas. For example, Zipcar doesn't have any cars available in the Los Angeles suburb where I grew up, and it's hard to imagine that establishing a fleet there would make economic sense anytime soon.
How big and how successful this approach will become remains to be seen, but it's a creative idea that makes a clear point: disruption can happen anywhere, to anyone. As the entertainment industry continues to fight progress, experts from every side of the debate love to make profound-sounding statements about how the internet has changed our media consumption habits, but that's old news. From mobile-based taxi & limo services to the coming era of 3D printers and things like the Pirate Bay's Physibles site, digital technologies are disrupting a lot of things, not just media. Governments and industries cannot continue getting bogged down in tiresome debates about saving obsolete business models—not if they want to have any hope of embracing the opportunities, and solving the potential problems, of a fast-approaching future.